A group of UNP Parliamentarians, on Wednesday, lamented that the Joint Opposition was staging protests on issues that was of its (Rajapaksa regime's) own making and that it was only because true democracy was thriving in the country that these protests were being allowed to be carried out without let or hindrance. UNP MP Thushara Indunil, who was among those who addressed the media, at the party headquarters, Sirikotha, went onto list out the outstanding issues, that were a carryover from the previous government, on which agitations are continuing.
Unsaid by the group of UNPers is the need for an effective campaign to counter the misleading propaganda of the Joint Opposition and lay bare the true picture to the general public. It is certainly true that the Yahapalanaya government has inherited the fallout of the multiple sins of the Rajapaksa regime. The most serious among these is the massive debt burden bequeathed to it and colossal losses to the state by corruption and mismanagement. The measures taken by the government to repay these debts and other economic reforms have no doubt placed hardships on the public. But it is the government which is taking all the flak, while those responsible for this state of affairs are today taking the moral high ground and attacking the government, but also hoodwink the people by laying all the blame on the incumbent regime. Hence, the frustration of the UNP MPs could be understood. Like they stated, the Rajapaksa government, not only passed on the legacy of mountainous debt but also took other imprudent measures, irresponsibly, the consequences of which the Yahapalanaya government has to contend with.
Among the standout issues passed onto the present regime are the CEB employees’ salary matter. Today protests are staged by them demanding a salary increment which stemmed from the salary increase granted to the CEB engineers, five days before the last Presidential election. Thus, the Yahapalanaya government was left holding the baby. The Rajapaksa regime had also promised the workers recruited to Sri Lanka Telecom, via Manpower agencies, to absorb them into the permanent cadre, also before the election, and now these workers are protesting opposite the Telecom main headquarters, at the Lotus road junction, blaming the present administration for not honouring this promise, made by the previous regime. Ditto for SAITM, which was set up in 2011, the issue passed onto the present government to be dealt with.
What is unfathomable is the lackadaisical attitude of the Yahapalanaya government to inform the public of the true situation, so far, that these issues were not of its own making but a legacy of the Rajapaksa regime and that it was now left to carry the can.
There is also the saga surrounding the Hambantota port development project. Mahinda Rajapaksa has today positioned himself as a champion, to save the country from becoming a Chinese colony, whereas, the very same accusation was made by the UNP in opposition when MR was so obsessed which China that he virtually gave a free run of the country to the Asian economic dragon. We were so close to China, that, a pro Rajapaksa newspaper columnist even suggested the setting up of a Chinese military bases in Sri Lanka and to hell with India. Such was the adulation we had for China. For Rajapaksa, to now be in the vanguard to save the country from being gobbled up by China is indeed the height of hypocrisy.
But the Yahapalanaya government has dismally failed to counter his allegations. It is not going hammer and tongs to drive this point home to the public, but is taking things lying down, making way for protestors to even storm the venue of the Hambantota port project opening ceremony attended by the Prime Minister, as if the whole thing was started by the Sirisena-Wickremesignhe government and not MR, who it was, who started alienating land in the area for the project, in the first place.
It is time that the government started taking the bull by the horns and show up the true face of the Joint Opposition whose members are disporting themselves as paragons of virtue after passing over to the present government the manifold ills of the Rajapaksa regime, that it has now to contend with. At least the UNP should get down to business in this regard. A frequent complaint against Premier Wickremesinghe, even by the UNPers, is his tendency to let things drift, instead of going for the jugular of his political enemies, like say a Premadasa. This reticence, on his part, is perhaps one reason that cost him the country's leadership on many an occasion. It is also noteworthy that the Premier, unlike other politicians, does not crow about his own rich personal legacy. Perhaps the gentleman in him baulks at such antics. But the Yahapalnaya government cannot afford to take the soft approach any longer, in the face of the mounting campaign of the Joint Opposition, to lay the blame of all the Rajapaksa sins, squarely, at its doorstep.